The votes have been tallied, and the winners of the first annual T Ching Haiku Contest are Anne Lerch and Alex Lozowski. The editorial staff at T Ching decided to interview these poets so that the entire community can get to know them better. Our first interview was with Anne Lerch, T Ching contributor.

What kind of tea are you drinking these days?
I’m “in-between” my tea seasons, no longer drinking my Earl Grey iced sun tea (it’s too cold outside), and haven’t yet stocked up on tea for the winter. Hmmm, sounds like the time is right to explore some loose-leaf teas from T-Ching! I have never had a white tea before!
What is your favorite tea ritual?
I have two. One is making my sun tea; rinsing the jar with cold water, filling it with cold water (we have the best water at our house in Oak Grove, non-chlorinated), placing the tea in there, and finding the best spot in the sun out on the deck. This is a morning ritual.
The other is simply sitting down with a cup of hot tea; holding my face over it, noticing the look of it, smelling it, taking the first sip. For some reason, this tiny act always takes my entire attention—a small mindfulness exercise.
Hood River has something like seven places to get a cup of high-end coffee, what would it take to get a comfortable sit-down tea shop?
What would the start-up costs be? I think a shop that sells tea and tea paraphernalia (perhaps including some antique or exotic pots, tea chests, ceramics, etc.) would do quite well in Hood River right now, in the right location. It would be important that it was run by someone very knowledgeable about tea, that they were hands-on in the day-to-day operations. You could hold tea tastings and invite speakers, and so on, just like wineries and breweries have done—but young folks could participate too (in fact, you could hire and train them to work there, cultivating a younger crowd!) Anyone have the money to invest?
Besides writing haiku, what are your other passions?
I listed some in my T Ching bio; reading, gardening, writing, watching films, quilting and lately, knitting. I hope to do more hiking in this next year, and maybe more drawing too.
What is the most striking difference between tea and wine culture?
I’m a novice when it comes to exposure to tea culture, but I haven’t heard too much about how tea is enjoyed with food, and when it comes to wine, food is part of the experience, inseparable.
What advice do you have for the editors at T Ching, as we try to get the public to drink more tea?
From an editorial stand-point? I think there’s a good balance in the posts as far as topics, but I would like to see more tasting notes and information about specific teas and their preparation and history, how to serve them, etc., profiles, kind of. Gear it towards novices, so we don’t feel left out! Encourage the contributors from other parts of the world to share what they know. Also, I love the personal experiences and stories people share about their tea (but I’m a sucker for a good story.) And personally, I would love to hear more about growing and processing tea.
Is there anything else about you that we should know?
Not that I can think of.

Winners received the first-ever T Ching t-shirt . . . in their choice of colors: black, green, white, or oolong. Pictured here is Alex’s white tea, long-sleeved.

Tune in to this space next Friday, November 16, for the interview with Alex Lozowski.